In the Mail today, James Delingpole has an article headlined “The crazy climate change obsession that’s made the Met Office a menace“.
Needless to say, the Met Office wasn’t going to take that lying down.
It has published a response on its blog, detailing “a series of factual inaccuracies about the Met Office and its science”.
Delingpole writes that the Met Office “failed to predict” the 2010 snow, and that the floods in November were “forecast-defying”.
The Met office responds:
Firstly, he claims the Met Office failed to predict snow in 2010, but our 5-day forecasts accurately forecast 12 out of 13 snowfall events… In addition the Press Complaints Commission has also already addressed this fallacy with the Daily Telegraph in February of last year. As a result the newspaper published a clarification that highlighted that “the Met Office did warn the public of last winter’s [2010/11] cold weather from early November 2010.”
Mr Delingpole also says we failed to predict flooding in November last year. Once again, our 5-day forecasts gave accurate guidance and warnings throughout the period.
The Met Office also dings Delingpole for claiming they had conceded that “there is no evidence that ‘global warming’ is happening”. They confirm that they did not say that:
In fact, we explicitly say this was not the case in an article, posted on the home page of our website and widely circulated, which was written in response to articles about updates to our decadal forecast.
It goes on. Delingpole is also reprimanded for claiming that the Met said that Britain was experiencing more rain than at any time since records began (it did not say that), for claiming that the Met was saying that the past ten years have been the wettest decade ever (it did not say that either) and for quoting another a member of Lord Lawson’s climate sceptic group GWPF saying that the Met “thinks weather forecasting is beneath it” (the Met points out that “the vast majority” of its contractual work for the public is weather forecasting).
The Met Office adds:
There are also a number of other accusations which cannot be substantiated.
Last month, Delingpole was censured by the Australian Press Council for writing a column which described an Australian renewable energy programme as a “Ponzi scheme”, which falsely accused a law firm of gagging climate sceptics, and which quoted someone comparing the wind-farm business to a paedophile ring. Delingpole was also criticised for making claims about the health risks of wind farms which were contrary to “extensive academic research” on the subject, but the Press Council decided his claim did not meet the “very high threshold” required to call it “untenable”.
So what assertions in the Mail piece are defensible? The Met found at least one:
Mr Delingpole does quote Dr Whitehouse saying “when it comes to four or five day weather forecasting, the Met Office is the best in the world.” This supports the view of the World Meterological Organization (WMO) which consistently ranks the Met Office in the top two operational forecasters in the world.